How to make money from woodworking?

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30 Dec 2014
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Weekend warrior here, so far everything I've built up to date is for myself or the family. however, if I wanted to make money to at the very least recuperate my costs from buying so many tools, how could i go about it?

Strictly a hobbyist here with no formal carpentry training. Do you guys sell stuff on etsy? Go to crafts fairs? car boot sales even?

American forums says stuff like clothes pegs and chopping boards sell very well and as much as I'm loving the woodworking and I can appreciate how much time, patience and expertise goes into making furniture, I can't see how anyone would want to spend hundreds on furniture as oppose to cheap IKEA crud. Thats how I started actually, couldn't justify buying a king size bed so I made one myself.

u find the ten percent who have disposable income and want something that is quality, bespoke, the thing they have perfectly in mind for a space.
unfortunately in Ireland those people r hard to find. in america its a lot easier no questions asked at 50 dollars an hour 30 percent extra on materials and 20% on the whole cost for contingency.

if u want quality and true style and designer look they will pay, but not easy to make a name or get those jobs need to know people like realtors and interior designers.

hope that helps i'm a poor woodwork teacher as its less stressful and more reliable regards.
Check out the Scrollsaw section, or search Chipygeoff's posts, there's a few scrollers who sell at craft fairs, Chippygeoff gave a lot of tips on what sells and how to sell at craft fairs. I don't think it will make you rich, but it should mean you can recoup some if not all of your costs.


Having been dragged to a few craft fairs in various places before Christmas I have seen a variety of people selling items they have made. Most of it tends to be turned bowls or bandsawn boxes.

Chopping boards are another one. I saw one bloke lay down £120 for a chopping board that was basically a 2' by 1' Waney Edged board that was 1" Thick. I asked the maker about their process and aside from not revealing their secret finishing recipes they admitted that the board was just drum sanded and finished.
As most of the Joiner and cabinet maker members will tell you, it's not easy running a workshop etc, etc,
If you are just looking for a small return, the easyiest would be to make two tables, or beds etc. and sell one.
Do some research as to what the buyers are wanting, and make another to sell, remembering that you're particular tastes might not sell too well in some circumstances.
Then, you need to know where are you selling it.
When you see, for instance, a raw chipboard , round topped table 12" across, with a cloth thrown over it for £29.99 selling well in B&Q, a while ago, It's a bit of a mystery!
HTH. Regards Rodders
ignore "Ikea Crud" at your peril IMO. For the money, much of their stuff are very decent products. We bought a pine kitchen table and 4 pine chairs 10 yrs ago for £99 from Ikea. Structurally its still faultless! If I was making furniture, it would be fitted furniture only...
The way to make a small fortune in woodworking is to start with a large fortune.....
I made a set of dining chairs nearly 20 years ago. I still have two of them. Theyare American Cherry and to3 months to make, as a set.

A friend of mine saw them and said, enthusiastically, "Wow, they look fantastic, that's just like what you would buy in IKEA".

The only reason I didn't bludgeon him to death there and then is that I realised that he meant it as a compliment.

For some strange reason we are still friends.
It is a reality of modern living people will pay handsomely for a new Kitchen or fitted bedroom but all free standing furniture is compared to IKEA. The reason why people will pay £29.99 for a piece of chipboard shaped like a table is because when fashion changes they can throw it in the skip and get the new fashion. Very few people will pay for craftsmanship in furniture. Even at the top end just look how many of our top craftsmen provide training courses to supplement or in some cases replace their reliance on selling furniture.
If you can sell choping boards for several tens of pound good luck
I would agree with all previous sentiment.....Unless you are a well set up, experienced workshop, making kitchens or basic built in furniture, its extremely difficult. I use a guy who just specialises in what I described, its rinse wash repeat and he has it off pat. He does OK, I give him at least £100K of business a year. I have another friend who does more complex and varied stuff - He struggles constantly to keep his business going and I dont use him, as he is too expensive once I have marked his stuff up......I think you need to assume you will never make anything more than the occasional sale of stuff and treat it purely as a hobby in the set up you have described. I am based in London, where there is much more of a market than in Wales and its still incredibly tricky to get people to pay realistic money for handmade stuff.
Sad fact of life I am afraid !
Our CEO has just had a barn converted and has had solid oak floors fitted and an oak staircase made as well as bespoke shelving in the library and study (I suspect you're getting the idea). He has obviously paid for this workmanship so there are people who will. However i earn what you would call a decent salary and I could never justify that expense. It's not a fashion thing, just that there are so many higher priorities in my life that I would spend money on. I live in a modern house and it doesn't really lend itself to lots of built in furniture so not only is it a low priority it's also not something I would ever do in this house. I guess the flip side is that he has just paid a small fortune to have it done so there are people who do still want / need hand built craftsmanship. I buy a lot of furniture from ikea because it matches each other and is well built and lasts. Sure it's not solid oak but I bought some Malm drawers a few years ago £35 for 3 drawers and they still look like new and run smoothly. I couldn't justify £400 for oak ones. I'm even finding just the cost of wood so expensive that it puts me off my hobby. I'm waiting for a quote back for some Iroko and I fear that it might be so costly it puts me off my project (outdoor bench).
DTR":3oxtk6z8 said:
The way to make a small fortune in woodworking is to start with a large fortune.....

=D> Absolutely right! I gather that quite a few aspiring 'designer makers' came from very well remunerated backgrounds - " I've had enough of the City now I've made my pile, and I want to do something more worthwhile". That's great, but try doing it without the comfort and security of a City pile in the bank....

One difference between an amateur and a professional (in many walks of life) is that the amateur practices until they get it right, and the professional keeps going until they can do it very fast indeed and can't get it wrong. You can make a living doing it the professional way, but unless you're a very slick salesman and brilliant at finding mugs with too much money, not the amateur way.

Enjoy woodworking. It's creative, theraputic and deeply rewarding - for an amateur. It's intensely competitive, highly demanding and (once all the business expenses are paid and time expended reckoned in) generally pretty low-paid for the professionals.
psycho_grizz":3usfptdj said:
Weekend warrior here, so far everything I've built up to date is for myself or the family. however, if I wanted to make money to at the very least recuperate my costs from buying so many tools, how could i go about it?
Strictly a hobbyist here with no formal carpentry training. Do you guys sell stuff on etsy? Go to crafts fairs? car boot sales even?
Go and look what actually sells at this sort events and whether you'd make any profit...... be honest and realistic.
American forums says
and they know what sells in the UK ?

From what I've seen, there's virtually no way to just sell a little to cover your costs from amateur woodworking. It's either a full on endevour or a hobby.

You might be able to sell some turned work at craft fairs that will cover the costs of having a stall and the costs of the timber, but you'd be very lucky to generate enough profit to cover tooling costs. It might just be regarded as a fun way of getting rid of surplus projects after all your friends are fed up with receiving gifts ;-)
Scrollers seem to be in a similar situation.

Trying to sell home made furniture seems doomed to failure too. Just the timber costs are greater than most people buy flat packs for.

I enjoy working wood and just have to accept it costs money to do. I've saved myself money by making my own windows and furniture, which is sort of a justification for the expenditure on tooling.
I belong to a Medieval re-enactment group who specialize in the atrizan crafts of the period. Our carpenter makes authentic oak boxes, cost wise they start mid three figures. He is often told ' I can buy a box from Homebase for £25' His reply is go and buy it then, I can't get the wood for that.
Cheeky customers wanting everything so cheap. :evil:

Do they think the wood just grows on trees or something.

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